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For lunch today, I finally made the coleslaw I’ve been wanting to make for the last two weeks. The two cabbage that I bought, were however bought two weeks ago when I first decided I wanted to try making coleslaw. I’d stored them in our back porch – which is somewhere between a shabby conservatory, a lean-to, and a boot room – as it’s freezing in there and great when I run out of fridge space. They probably weren’t as crisp and crunchy as they would have been two weeks ago, but notheless still good.
I finely shredded a small white cabbage and a small red cabbage. Finely sliced a small red onion, and grated half a giant carrot – probably the size of one normal carrot. In a bowl I combined a couple of tablespoons of organic mayonnaise, about two teaspoons of whole grain mustard, a little under one teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a glug of extra virgin olive oil, a splash of white wine vinegar, salt, pepper and a little warm water. I mixed this all together and added my shredded, sliced and grated veg. Stir it altogether and you have my version of coleslaw.
What I’ve realised is that you don’t need to think that you need to ‘attempt’ to make coleslaw. It is in fact, quite simple. I’m sure you could try lots of different combinations, and with a little bit of tweaking to create the flavours you’re after it would still taste great. So have a go, it’s the perfect way to eat raw vegetables at this cold and inhospitable time of year.
We ate ours two ways: N served his coleslaw with a minute steak (from Little Heath Farm) and a hunk of Cheese and Sundried Tomato bread (from Barkbakan – this bread is delicious, it is topped with mixture of seeds, one of which is caraway which seems to have the effect of hightening the cheese and tomato flavours); I ate mine with a potato, cheese and leek pastry.
It’s been over two weeks since I’ve posted anything – which is terrible, and the opposite of what a blog should be. I have been flat-out at work organising a big conference which starts in just over a week. Co-ordinating 90 delegates and a further 40-50 contributors, not to mention the logistics of room allocations, menu choices, and who’s staying where, has quite literally sapped me of all my energy. Coming home has involved a quick dinner then slumping in front of the TV in a bid to switch off from work.
Christmas seems so far away now. The aftermath of Christmas dinner has faded…
Granny’s gluten-free mince pies are a distant memory…
Little sisters are back at school and studying hard…
And there’s not a crumb left of the turkey and cranberry Boxing Day bagels…
But, I have seen my first snowdrops and spring is on its way.
This morning started like any other Saturday, but my plans were quickly cut short. Whilst carrying out the dangerous job of…drying my hair…I experienced an excruciating spasm in my back, and was rendered unable to move and stuck lying on the floor for about an hour while N called NHS Direct. It was just common back pain, nothing more serious, but damn painful. I am now dosed up on painkillers and with strict instructions not to spend more than 4 hours in bed at a time…tonight I am psyching myself up for a night of DVD’s and late night TV.
Anyway, back to what I really wanted to talk about – THE best pizza ever. Sadly, I can’t take any of the credit for it, that goes 100% to N. N has been doing a lot recently, including DIY and studying for his masters. I decided that as the weekend was starting to stack up with DIY chores, that he needed some treats to get him through. I already knew what would be top of his list – beef and pizza. He’s been going on about making pizza since before Christmas, so I stocked up on some buffalo mozzarella, tinned cherry tomatoes, semolina flour and Parma ham.
Our favourite pizza recipe is from Jamie Olive’s Jamie’s Italy book. We especially enjoy the ‘fried pizzas’ which involves frying the pizza bases prior to baking in the oven. N finished early on a Friday so by the time I arrived home at 6pm he was already underway with the dough. Within the hour four beautiful silky pizza bases were resting on the worktop.
I whipped up some tomato sauce using a tin of cherry tomatoes, a couple of cloves of garlic and a teaspoon of honey. The sauce was spread over the bases, and topped with a mixture of that dreaded squeaky version of mozzarella (left over from a lasagne) grated, a couple of torn pieces of buffalo mozzarella, and some dried herbs. They were popped in a hot oven and when cooked topped of with some slivers of Parma ham. Of course, I am biased, but to me, these pizzas, made by the man I love are THE best pizzas.
Makes 4 medium-sized pizzas
400g strong white bread flour
100g semolina flour
1/2 tbsp salt
7g dried yeast
1/2 tbsp golden caster sugar
approx. 325ml lukewarm water
In a large bowl mix the flours and salt, and make a well in the centre. To your warm water add the yeast and sugar and mix with a fork – leave for a few minutes.
Pour the yeast liquid into the well in the flour and using a fork slowly mix the flour into the liquid. It will start to look a bit like thick porridge. When the dough comes together and is too hard mix with the fork, use your hand and begin to form it into a ball.
Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until you have a smooth springy soft dough. Lightly flour the dough and wrap in clingfilm or cover with a bowl and leave for about 15 minutes.
Divide the dough into four pieces and roll them out on a floured surface. Once rolled out, leave them for up to half an hour before you want to cook them. If you’re going to stack them on top of each, to ensure they don’t stick together make sure you flour between them or lay a piece of foil or greaseproof paper between each base.
Preheat your oven to 250°C / gas mark 9. Place your bases on a baking tray and spread over your tomato sauce and add your cheese – we used a mixture of grated ‘plastic’ mozzarella and torn buffalo mozzarella. Bung in the super hot oven for about 10 minutes or until golden. Top with shreds of Parma ham, slice and eat.
This recipe is taken and slightly adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italy.
Barcelona is one of my favourite cities in the world – at least, it’s probably my favourite out of all those I have visited. It is somewhere that I would happily go back to over and over again. I don’t really enjoy spending time in cities, having lived most of my life in the countryside I find them very claustrophobic, but Barcelona is different. It has an underlying calmness that runs through it streets, despite the hustle and bustle of city life. I would recommend it to anyone.
It has a fantastically rich food landscape, with beautiful cafes, tapas bars, patisseries and markets on every street. There are small bakeries selling baguettes, simply filled with a smear of fresh tomato and Serrano ham, ideal for the weary tourist. There are so many tapas bars to choose from that it’s hard to recommend one. We found one we liked in the Barri Gothic area and went back more than once – it was nice to go in the second time and for the waitress to recognise us. One of my favourite dishes were garlicky haricot beans.
There are stalls at ‘La Boqueria’ market with tables piled high with exotic magenta pink fruits with a cluster of black seeds, halved and sold with a spoon for a healthy snack on the move.
Then there is the Christian Escriba Pastisseria on La Rambla.
It is a stunning (much of Barcelona is stunning) small bakery – described on their website as a cake shop (www.escriba.es) – which has a small cafe, and tempting displays of pastries, cakes, chocolates, tarts, and other tasty things.
Last time we visited we had brekfast here everyday.
Should I ever live in Barcelona, my life would be happy but somewhat short lived if I breakfasted here everyday.
*I am going to try making my own Spanish style hot chocolate – I will post a recipe once it has been tried and tested!
I am still defrosting after spending the morning in a draughty barn at the local farmers market. I am a volunteer with the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and am the sole volunteer responsible for their local food work. I had a stall at a number of farmers markets in Cheshire over the summer, handing out leaflets and gathering nominations for a ‘Buy Local’ food awards we have been running.
This time I was helping with a project that is being piloted round the country called Mapping Local Food Webs. It sounds confusing and it is quite – but in brief it’s researching and documenting the relationships between farmer/producer, retailer and customer, and if there are any challenges. If you’re interested more information can be found at http://www.makinglocalfoodwork.co.uk/.
The pilot project in the North West is being centred around Knutsford (if you’re reading this and from Knutsford (!) and are interested in getting involved please leave me a comment). We had a great map of Knutsford and the surrounding area of about a 15 miles radius. We asked people to put a coloured sticky dot on the map to show us where they had come from. It was really interesting to see where people had travelled from – from the really local who had walked down the road, to those who had travelled over 15 miles and had to stick their coloured dot on the edge of the map.
For me, I consider ‘local food’ to be food that is grown/produced within about 10 miles of where I live. Nationally I believe it is defined as food that is produced within 30 miles of you, which is actually quite a distance if you look at it on a map. It was a pretty quiet market today, the first of the year, but we are aiming to go back in a month when it should be back to its busy self, and hopefully the map will come with us and we should start to build up a really interesting picture of where people travel from to visit the market.
A storecupboard meal to save you. On realising that I am 2 ounces short of enough risotto rice to make the planned (and I might add for a number of days…plenty of time to check the jar of risotto rice and buy more) Pea, Mint and Mascarpone Risotto, I had a mild panic and was then saved by a couple of items that have been lounging in the fridge since Christmas. I like nights like these, when plans go to pot, but in turn make way for a creative meal to be cobbled together.
Tonight’s meal has been cobbled from: potatoes (delicious golden fleshed potatoes, ashamedly I admit from the supermarket, but grown in Hertfordshire), an onion, chorizo sausage (the cooking type, not the salami), green olives (remnants of the edible Christmas gifts), and a lump of hard Spanish cheese (brought back from Madrid by my dad).
Chop up the potatoes and parboil. Slice the onion and fry in an ovenproof dish on a medium heat. Add some sliced chorizo. And some finely chopped garlic. A sprinkle of dried herbs. Ground black pepper.
Add the drained potatoes. Stir well. Add half a tin of tomatoes and 200ml of chicken stock (from a cube). Bung in the oven (180°C).
20 minutes later, remove from the oven. Sprinkle over the green olives. Grate on some cheese. Bung it back in the oven for a further 5-10 minutes until the cheese is all gooey and golden. Yum.
A quick post to wish everyone a Happy New Year. It has been a whirlwind two weeks of Christmas and New Year celebrations, with lots of good food, family and friends, and a couple of illnesses thrown in for good measure. Posts to come shortly with Christmas food and fun with the family.